Israeli Arab Leadership Declares Strike Over Lax Police Response to Violent Crime

Public security minister agrees to meet on the issue with Joint List lawmakers, who will boycott the swearing-in ceremony for the new Knesset on the day of the strike

Protesters against femicide in the Palestinian society march in Haifa, September 26, 2019.
Rami Shllush

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel has declared a general strike for Thursday in protest at what it claims is police inaction in the face of violent crime in Israeli Arab communities, which most recently included a double murder in the northern Arab town of Majdal Krum on Tuesday.

In response to Arab community protests, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that he had agreed to a request from representatives of the largely Arab Joint List Knesset faction to meet with him on Sunday over the situation. Erdan will also hold a command-level emergency meeting with the Israel Police on Thursday on the matter.

The Joint List faction announced that its Knesset members would not attend Thursday's swearing in of the new Knesset, which was elected on September 17, the day of the planned strike in the Arab community. During Thursday's one-day strike, local governments in Arab communities are not expected to provide municipal services and schools in the communities are slated to be closed. 

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh and Joint list Knesset member Ahmad Tibi.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee includes representatives from all of the parties and political movements in the Israeli Arab community, including the Joint List Knesset members and the heads of local governments.

Erdan's office said he would be meeting with Joint List Knesset members Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mtanes Shehadeh to brief them on steps that he said would be taken immediately, including what was described as "deploying forces in Arab communities."

"The crime situation and violence in Arab society is unfortunately intolerable and dealing with it is at the top of our priorities," Erdan said in the statement. "This involves an emergency situation and it must be fought through all-out war as we fight terrorism," he said. "I also call upon the Arab leadership to take an active part in the fight, to lead to historic change together and to bring security to Israel's Arab citizens."

In the Majdal Krum killings on Tuesday, two brothers were shot to death in the course of a brawl and another man was seriously injured with stab wounds.

Over the past month, 13 Israeli Arabs have been murdered. Since the beginning of the year, the murder rate among the country's Arab population has increased by 20 percent compared to the period last year.

On Monday, a third protest of its kind, attended by thousands, was held in the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm against Arab community violence. The demonstrators marched to the local police station and demanded that police collect illegal weapons from residents. In the northern Arab town of Ilabun, hundreds demonstrated on the issue in a protest organized by a women's group.